|June 27, 2014|
Previously published on June 20, 2014
Nestlé Waters North America prevailed in a high-exposure case related to a 2011 automobile accident that occurred on Route 347 in Smithtown, NY, involving a Poland Spring truck and an automobile driven by the plaintiff, George Kohler. The case was venued in New York State Supreme Court, Suffolk County, and after a five-day trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the defense.
“This accident was truly unfortunate, and while we are pleased with the outcome of this trial, our prayers for a continued recovery are with Mr. Kohler,” said Charles Broll, General Counsel, of Nestlé Waters North America.
While traveling at excessive speeds, the plaintiff struck the Poland Spring truck that had just entered the highway from the shoulder. The plaintiff alleged that he suffered traumatic brain and other injuries as a result of the truck driver’s negligent driving, and was seeking an award of $10 million.
The defense argued that the driver, a long-time Poland Spring employee with impeccable personnel and driving records, was in no way negligent, and with two independent eye witnesses who saw the plaintiff driving recklessly and at excessive speeds, convinced the jury that the defendant was not at fault and to rule in favor of the defense.
The significance of this win is compounded by the potentially defense-crippling jury instructions that included a Noseworthy charge of a lower burden of proof for the plaintiff as it was stipulated that his loss of memory was caused by the accident. Also, since comparative fault was sought in the case, the plaintiff was given the benefit of an Emergency Doctrine charge suggesting that he did not create the emergency situation, and thus should not be subject to the “normal” standards of reasonable care.